Photo via instagram.com/fleishers
Aug 26, 2021
After a walkout, former Fleishers employees plan to open their own butcher shop
The new business, which the former staffers hope to open at the end of the year, will offer a more expansive menu
In the wake of a massive staff walkout across all four Fleishers Craft Butchery shops—prompted by a tone-deaf order issued by the company’s billionaire majority shareholder to remove Black Lives Matter and pro-LGBTQ+ signs from shop windows—a handful of ex-employees are now planning to open their own butcher shop.
The new business will offer a more expansive menu, including ready-to-eat meals and locally sourced grocery items, says Jen Robertson, Fleishers former operations manager, who is spearheading the effort.
“The idea is not focusing only on meat, but focusing on our customers’ whole plates,” she tells Brooklyn Magazine. “We would like to offer things like chicken pot pie, beef stew that you could heat up, kebabs, kofta, or rotisserie chicken with a host of sides… basically, easily assembled meal kits for families to order.”
Talk of opening a new business began within a week of the walkout, she says. At least six ex-Fleishers employees are on board, including some from management teams—enough to fully staff a location. The nascent business has already garnered some investor interest, but is looking for others to “back a diverse group of really passionate people,” she says.
They hope to open somewhere in Brooklyn. They’ve been hunting for a location in Greenpoint, but are also considering Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy. No name has been selected (“We have a list with like 85 nouns and 85 adjectives,” says Robertson, laughing) but whatever they settle on, they hope it’s emblazoned over their new storefront by the end of the year.
After the walkout, which took place on July 23, Robert Rosania, the majority shareholder, issued a mea culpa in the form of a letter to former staffers, which said that the businesses would engage diversity consultants to create a culture of inclusion across Fleishers shops. Robertson, who had submitted her resignation before the letter was sent, got a chance to read it afterwards.
“There seems to be a lot of focus on trying to turn the company into a place of acceptance,” she says. “And my rebuttal to that argument is that it already was that place; it was unquestionably that place. The stores were already accepting of all people. But it was just the messaging that came from the majority shareholder that turned that around. So I don’t think a fix needed to come from the stores—the fix needed to come from the leadership down.”
As for the new shop, Robertson said that diversity “will be a cornerstone of our store.”
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